Men's Cagers Sink State #4 Mt. SAC At The Line

Myles Watkins battles for the ball in Friday's win (photo by Richard Quinton).
Myles Watkins battles for the ball in Friday's win (photo by Richard Quinton).

The Pasadena City College men's basketball team was near perfect at the free throw line on Friday night. Making a remarkable 24 of 25 attempts, including its first 22 attempts, the unranked Lancers used the 96 percent accuracy at the stripe to knock off state #4-ranked Mt. San Antonio, 83-76.

All of the free throws were attempted in the second half as PCC didn't have a single attempt in the first half and accounted for nearly half of the squad's 50 points over the last 20 minutes. 

The Lancers, coming off a loss at LA Trade-Tech on Wednesday, 90-84, improved to 16-10 overall and are now in a 3-way tie for second place in the South Coast Conference North Division with East Los Angeles and LATT, all at 5-3.

First-place Mt. SAC (22-3, 7-1) saw its 7-game conference win streak snapped as PCC joined Chaffey and LA Southwest as the only teams to defeat the Mounties this season. 

Pasadena trailed Mt. SAC, 36-33, by halftime and went on a 13-0 run to take a 55-45 lead 6:35 into the second half. The Mounties battled back to take a 71-69 lead before Myles Watkins hit a 3-pointer, then made a steal that resulted in a difficult bank shot basket in the paint by Shant Chenorhavorian for a 74-71 Lancers advantage with 1:38 left.

The Mounties put the Lancers in a double bonus situation as their fouls stopped the clock but only helped PCC in the process. Pasadena calmly sank free throw after free throw, making 9-for-10 in the final minute alone to ice the upset victory. 

Leading the free throw parade was Chenorhavorian (6-for-6) followed by Jalen Vazquez (5-for-6), Deen Abdur-Rahmann and Kaiden Fine (each 4-for-4), Dylan Swillis (3-for-3), and Watkins (2-for-2). 

"I think tonight was just the opportunity we needed after our loss v. LA Trade-Tech," said PCC head coach Ryan Frazer. "Mt. SAC is obviously one of the best teams in the state and was a great challenge for us. As we approach the postseason, every team hopes to play their best basketball. This win was a step in the right direction, and hopefully we can build on this as we close out conference play."

Another difference in the win was PCC's ability to hit treys, making 11 to only five by the Mounties. Watkins led the way with 19 points (three 3-pointers), four assists and three steals as he led five Lancers in double-digit scoring. Abdur-Rahmann also drained three long-range bombs as part of his 17 points, Chenorhavorian hit two triples, scored 16 points, grabbed a team-high seven rebounds despite being the smallest player on the floor for either team at 5-foot-9, and dished four assists. 

Chenorhavorian's defense also was key as he made two steals and drew two charging fouls by Mt. SAC. Swillis added 14 points and four steals, Fine totaled 12 off the bench (including two 3-point baskets), and Vazquez scored all five of his points over the last 24 seconds of the contest and passed out four helpers. 

Mt. SAC was led by Nick Hopkins, who scored 19 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and was a force all over the floor. However, Hopkins suffered a cut on his forehead with 1:10 left that forced him to leave the game and not return.

Against LA Trade-Tech, PCC chased the score, falling behind 30-19, then 40-33 at halftime. In the second half, it was more of the same, but the Lancers managed to cut it to 81-78 on a Watkins layup with 1:35 remaining. The Beavers doubled PCC on the boards with 42 rebounds to just 21 by the Lancers and closed out their triumph.

It was a season-low in rebounds and the team nearly matched that low v. Mt. SAC, dominated by the Mounties in the paint at 43-22 rebound disadvantage.

PCC also shot well from the line at Trade Tech, making 19 of 22 attempts (86.4 percent). Watkins topped all scorers with 22 points with five steals, five boards, and four assists. Chenorhavorian added 18 points, making four treys with four assists and four steals, Swillis had 14 points and blocked two shots, Vazquez contributed 13 points, four assists and three takeaways, and Abdur-Rahmann tacked on 10 points and five rebounds. 


Watkins, a sophomore wing, continued his climb on the PCC All-Time Scoring List as he now has 820 career points, moving into 26th place. Next up is catching #25 in Horace Wormely (2001-03, 827 points), then Elliott Berry (2008-10) and Eric Williams (1968-70), who both totaled 829 points and are tied for 23rd place.

The Lancers play at Los Angeles City College on Wednesday, Feb. 21 (5 p.m.), then closes the regular season on Sophomore Night at PCC on Friday, Feb. 23 v. Rio Hondo. Pasadena will then learn its playoff seed for the upcoming Southern California Regionals.